News & Policies
History & Tours | Kids | Your Government | Appointments | Jobs | Contact | Graphic version
The West Wing
The history of the West Wing dates to the early years of the White House. President Thomas Jefferson, the first full-term occupant of the White House, proposed one-story extensions to the east and west to connect the President's house with adjacent office buildings. President Jefferson's design concepts survive in part through the terraces that connect the Residence of the White House with the East and West Wings.
The terraces, as constructed, were used for household functions and did not provide additional office space. The president continued to live and work in the White House proper for the remainder of the century with his executive offices taking up much of the second floor, the same floor as the living quarters. Official and family needs, however, made this arrangement unsatisfactory.
For example, in 1860 a state visit by Edward, Prince of Wales, distressed the Buchanan administration because of the lack of appropriate guest accommodations. Elaborate schemes were set forth to alleviate the crowded conditions under the Harrison, Cleveland and McKinley administrations, but it was not until 1902, under the direction of President Theodore Roosevelt, that the presidential offices were removed from the Residence to the addition that became known as the West Wing.
Today, the West Wing is the center of activity at the White House. The West Wing houses the President's Oval Office, the offices of his executive staff, the Cabinet Room, the Roosevelt Room, and the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.